This is not a blog you should come to, if you want to encounter a neatly packaged bunch of received political ideas that conform to any convenient label. If you can only stand views that do not offend the “right” or the “left”, or which stay within the confines of the “politically correct”, then go read elsewhere.
Recently I have taken on the shibboleths of ultra feminism, in response to a series of articles published in the Guardian by feminist writers on the Assange and DSK cases, and on Kenneth Clarke’s remarks on rape. The writers in question – including for example Eve Ensler and Zoe Williams – self-describe as feminist writers. I am not applying the description to them.
My views on these matters plainly cross what is viewed as a boundary of acceptable or conventional thought for some of my regular commentators. It is therefore sensible of me to set out those views in a logical form here, so we can identify areas of agreement and disagreement, and try to consider with each other whether any of us wish to reconsider our views.
First, on feminism in general. I recognise that there is a power imbalance in society to the detriment of women. The glass ceiling still is firmly in place. Alpha male behaviour is still overly rewarded by the cutthroat system on which our political economy is organised, to general detriment. We really do have a society where male sociopaths dominate; Tony Blair is its poster boy.
I think that palliative measures on female equality, for example on equal pay, have been a good and important thing. But they have not even achieved their limited objective, nor succesfully tackled the difficulties of women in achieving power and promotion. I do not believe, in any sense, that women’s lack of power in society is because they should rightly be concentrating on subsidiary roles, either as homemakers or in the workforce.
But I believe that palliative measures have done pretty well all they can to improve this situation, and that no fundamental change is possible unless we reform our society itself to one which operates on a more cooperative model and in which consumption, wealth and waste of resources are not the primary goals. Then aggression and selfishness will not be rewarded as they now are.
I do believe that there are differing masculine and feminine personality traits, and that it is true that cooperative and empathectic behaviour is viewed as more feminine. But there is of course massive overlap within male and female populations, and there are many men who are also disadvantaged within the present system by their more societal attitude – just as there are female Rebekah Brooks (Update I can see I am going to have to keep doing this as it is very difficult to reason with feminist ideologues. In response to a comment, I am plainly putting forward Rebekah Brooks here as the female equivalnet of Tony Blair who I cite above, the ultra-succesful sociopath. I am not saying that all career women are like Rebekah Brooks.)- but a balance of disadvantage lies currently with women.
But- when it comes to sexuality itself, I think that sexuality is a wonderful fact of existence, which should be celebrated in full. I applaud any form of pleasure giving cooperation, that does not harm others, between consenting adults. But I do not regard sex as in any way sacred or mystic.
I believe that sexuality is just another human trait which people should be able to use, if they so choose, for economic gain, just as they can use their muscles or intellect in other ways. I therefore have no problem with prostitution, striptease, or advertising images. The coercion and violence which often accompanies prostitution could largely be remedied (as with drugs) by legalisation and regulation. If people wish to sell their sexuality, I believe they have a right to do so.
Nobody should ever be forced to.
Rape is a terrible crime. I believe that it should receive a very long jail sentence indeed. My view is that custodial sentences – as opposed to other punishment – should be reserved only for those who are a danger of committing violence to others. Non-violent crime should be punished in other ways. Rape is a violent crime and society should rightly be protected from rapists by long jail sentences. However, Kenneth Clarke was right; every crime can have aggravating or mitigating circumstances, even murder. There is nothing sacramental about rape that makes it different to murder and mystically unified, incapable of being worsened by use of a weapon, death threats, duration of offence etc.
For some feminists rape is not just a disgusting and violent crime, but a totemic act, indicative of wider male domination of women in society. There is some correlation (though not absolute) between this view, and sex-negative feminism, which views the act of penetration itself as an act of male dominance, and regards feminine heterosexuality as in itself tending to enforce a submissive role in society. This feminist tendency is completely opposed to the use of female sexuality by women for commercial gain, and thus virulently opposed to prostitution, stripping, advertising images, etc.
These sex-negative feminists have what I would call a dog-whistle response to allegations of rape, tending to an immediate presumption that the man must be guilty – this blog has previously pointed to a number of such articles on both Julian Assange and DSK, of which yesterday’s really badly researched article by Liz Willams can stand as an example – in which they are undoubtedly arguing that the man is guilty. They also argue for a lower standard of proof in rape trials than other criminal trials.
I have an extreme aversion to this line of argument. It is extremely unfortunate that rape will always be, in most cases, a hard crime to prove, for reasons which are obvious. But plainly false allegations of rape do exist, and the evil of false conviction is so great we have to continue to give the benefit of doubt to the defendant. If that principle disappeared in rape trials, other categories would soon follow.
The political establishment frequently uses sexual allegations against threatening dissidents to discredit them. That was done against me, it is what was done by Murdoch to Tommy Sheridan, it is being done against Julian Assange, and there is strong reason to believe it may be what is being done against DSK. Here are some facts I did not refer to yesterday.
The suite which Diallo entered after the alleged rape was empty and adjoined DSK’s suite, with a party wall. She had entered it twice with her electronic keycard before going to DSK’s suite, and she entered it again after the alleged rape. She had consistently lied about what she did after the alleged rape, and only admitted she had entered the adjoining suite after shown the electronic keycard record. She then changed her story to say she had returned and cleaned it – which begs the question, what had she done in there the previous two times?
This is important because the keycard records show that the hotel general manager himself had entered, rather surprisingly, that same adjoining suite that morning, before the alleged rape. As the records do not show when someone left, we do not know if he met her in there, or if he was in there during the consensual or forced sexual encounter next door. What we do know is that he telephoned the Elysee Palace before the alleged rape was reported to the police, and briefed Sarkozy’s aides.
Why I get so completely infuriated with the Enslers and Williams of this world is that they don’t stop to think why Assange or DSK or Sheridan might suddenly find themselves exposed to this kind of attack. Has the far left just gained in the Scottish Parliament its most important electoral positions in the UK for decades? Is Wikileaks threatening the whole edifice of US official secrecy, illegal killing and duplicitous foreign policy? Is the IMF being steered gently leftwards at a time of huge currency crises for the West?
The ultra, sex negative feminists cannot even start to consider that they ought perhaps to consider if there is a wider context. If the accusation is sexual then they automatically obey the dog whistle.. Of course the woman is telling the truth! And they fill the columns and airwaves to the delight of the right extablishment, whose obedient attack dogs the ultra feminists have become.
That is, of course, why the allegations are always sexual. They do so much more damage, in so many ways. The strange thing is, that if DSK or Assange had been accused of anything else, like robbing a Post Office (remember Peter Hain?), people like HarpyMarx would be extremely suspicious. But throw in a bit of sex, and the stupid idiots dance immediately to the right’s tune.